It finally happened. This past weekend, the Summer Drift crew made their debut at Midvale Speedway with some spectacular successes and equally dramatic mishaps. With fresh builds, the team of five showed up to experience the results of three months’ worth of frantic wrenching. In summary, it was a phenomenal event that was impossible to witness without a stupid grin covering your face as tires shredded, new drivers became comfortable on the track in front of you, and weak points in barely tested cars presented themselves.
That morning, after wrenching until nearly midnight on Andy’s B5 A4 build, I woke up to a pounding headache on his couch. The excitement for the day quickly overtook my massive hangover and we quickly drove up the street to ECS for some last-minute checks and to meet up with Andrew Fazekash, the new driver with a solidly built E36 sedan.
A short hour trip later, we were all pulling up to Midvale just in time for the drivers’ meeting, where we convened with the rest of the group who didn’t make the poor decisions we did the night before. As such, they were already set up and ready to go. Minutes after our arrival, the first group was staged and ready to hit the track.
Mike Day, with his MK3 GTI powered by a BMW V8 that sent its energy through his custom driveshaft to a Ford 8.8 rear end, had already drawn the attention of everyone present. He, Kevin, and Andy lined up for the first group of drifting while the rest of us took our seats, excited to see what the three experienced drivers would do on a real track.
We had, of course, seen a taste of their driving here at ECS. Some of us, myself included, had seen Kevin in previous seasons as he progressed with his driving and his car, but this newest iteration included several drastic changes that we highly anticipated. Fortunately, we were not disappointed. Despite it being his first time at a drift event, and with a car he had built in the short span of three months, Mike absolutely shredded. There aren’t words in the English language that can describe the perfection and control he exhibited. Unafraid of failure, his first runs were spent tandem with Kevin, where they displayed incredible driving skill out of the gate.
The crowd and I were stunned. The work he put into his build, the questions he answered that had never been asked before, and his incredible execution throughout all combined into the most impressive demonstration of pure excellence I have ever witnessed. Kevin, even with his seasons of experience, also failed to disappoint as he ripped his screaming supercharged E36 right there with Mike, door to door, around the track.
In that first group with them were Andy and Will, who also brought completely untested cars that showcased some creative work on their part to make happen. Being that one is an E39 540i Touring with a manual swap and plenty of custom work, and the other a rear-wheel converted B5 S4, these nontraditional cars had a few kinks present themselves. Will, sadly, experienced timing issues and had to retire for the day after his first run. Fortunately, this shakedown let him know where he needed to spend time to work everything out. Andy experienced some different problems, mostly boost related, as his freshly-built 1.8T made a habit of blowing charge pipes one or two turns in for every run, eventually requiring him to drop out for some emergency repairs.
After the astounding show that was the first group’s session, B group lined up to show the results of their work. A late-entry to the series, Sean brought his recently purchased and recently running E36 sedan along with Andrew’s heavily modified version of the same car. While Sean has a few seasons under his belt and made the course look easy even with a quite visibly ratchet ride, Andrew was a complete novice. Only a few experiences sideways in his car were under his belt, and frankly, it didn’t show.
A few laps were all it took for Andrew to find his comfort zone in the seat. By the end of the day, he was linking corners and sliding the whole track with relative ease. A quick learner, he became an impressive driver before the audience throughout the event. Now, it seems, he will be ready to drive right there with the more experienced members of the series in their impressive builds.
The day was full of learning experiences, high points of success as they shredded around the track and low points of mechanical failures that did little to dampen the spirits of everyone present despite their inconveniences. All said, watching brand new builds test their mettle around a grueling track was surreal. Something about Mike’s build, in particular, was almost hard to look at, like a dissociative experience. The sound and behavior of a car that would otherwise never move the way it did before us were almost confusing. Instincts and experience told me that the car wasn’t able to do what Mike made it, but my eyes and ears told a different story. The snappy responsiveness and smoke-producing rear tires countered everything I know to be real. Not to downplay the accomplishments the rest of the team realized, but Mike certainly stole the show with perhaps one of the most creative builds and impressive driving at the event, even next to a Pro-Am E92 sporting a twin-turbo LS that stunned onlookers with its ability to completely shroud the entire complex in thick, eye-watering smoke.
With that, the first day ended on the Summer Drift series All in, it was a resounding success. Goals were achieved, new ones set, and fun was had by everyone who had the fortune to watch, ride along, and drive in what was an exceptional day. I can’t wait to see where the boys take it from here, so be sure to look out for new videos and challenges that will answer all our burning questions about what’s next. Find us on YouTube and watch as the action heats up as the Summer cools off here at ECS Tuning.